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Hamburg Town Board welcomes new council members post-election

HAMBURG — Town of Hamburg voters returned Democrats to the town board majority, during the Nov. 5 general election. The voters denied reelection to Republicans Amy Ziegler, an incumbent, and first-time candidate Lawrence Speiser.

Democratic newcomers Michael Quinn and Cheryl Potter-Juda were elected, last week, ensuring a Democratic majority on the three-member board. Meanwhile, incumbent Supervisor and Republican Steven Walters held on to a slim lead over Democrat Walter Rooth III, heading toward the counting of absentee ballots.

Attorney Michael Quinn defeated incumbent Ziegler, also an attorney, in the race for the board’s four-year term. Quinn received 6,372 votes to Ziegler’s 5,237. Ziegler was first elected to the town board in 2009.

In the election for a two-year term on the town board, Potter-Juda, an educator, beat businessman Speiser by 400 votes; the final tally was 5,938 to 5,538. Potter-Juda will assume the seat vacated by Joseph Collins, who did not seek reelection.

Potter-Juda said that she was “honored and thrilled” by her election. Potter-Juda told The Sun, “Foremost, I am thankful to the community for the opportunity to represent them.”

She urged her new constituents to seek her out on issues that they believe are important to the town, while stressing that she has a few topics that are most important to her. She said that she believes taxes in the town are too high and that residents need some relief. “I live here; I know that taxes are too high,” she said, adding that she also believes there are ways to cut costs, without affecting services.

Recreation will also be a priority for her, she said. “From youth to seniors, this issue is very important to me.” In regard to being able to work with the incumbent supervisor if he is reelected, she said, “I’m not a negative person. That is not my style. I can work with anybody.”

Ziegler said that she wanted to thank all of Hamburg for the support she received, during her time on the board, adding that it has “truly been an honor and privilege” to serve the town where she grew up. Ziegler said that she did not view the position of councilmember as a political job, “but one of community service.”

As for the election results, she said, “This one hurts.”

Ziegler told The Sun that she was “very, very proud of [the town’s acquisition of] Woodlawn Beach and blessed to have worked with Steve [Walters], to bring it to fruition.” She noted the wide-ranging use of the beach and said that the town truly “hit a home run” with the addition of this local feature.

She said that she will remain active in the community and committed to the projects that she was a part of and wants to see completed. She added that she will not stop contributing to the community in any way, “just from a different perspective.”

Quinn told The Sun that he is glad to have the opportunity to “give back to the town.” He said that he is excited to tackle the challenges ahead and is looking forward to “working with Cheryl” and the town’s supervisor, “whoever that may be.”

He expressed thanks to the citizens who elected him and pledged to serve and work for the entire town and to keep partisan politics from impacting his duties.

Quinn said that he is looking to “take the town into its future.”

Collins, who declined to seek reelection this year, said that he was happy that the town board will now be comprised of a Democratic majority. He added that he is “cautiously optimistic” that Rooth will win and give the board a full roster of Democrats.

Collins noted dysfunction in the current board and said he felt that the only way to overcome that problem was to “wipe the slate clean.” He said that this goal was one of the reasons he declined to seek reelection. “It was time to get in a whole new board,” he added.

Collins praised the town of Hamburg and its people. “It’s a great town, with good people, and I am proud of the voters for giving the residents back their town,” he said.

In another local race, incumbent Tom Best beat Ted Casey by a margin of 816 votes out of almost 12,000 votes cast, in the race for highway superintendent.

Best told The Sun that, during his time in government, he has tried to put the people first and “leave politics at the door.” He said that he had previously served on a split town board, but that the members of that body could put politics aside and work for the “betterment of Hamburg.” He said he is hoping that the incoming board, whatever its makeup, is able to do the same.

Best said that he views his contributions to the town’s takeover of Woodlawn Beach, the new dog park and the town’s road paving success as some of his greatest accomplishments, and added that he is looking forward to the town’s new senior center, which he cited as an example of what can be accomplished when the town board works together.

Gerald Gorman, who ran unopposed, was reelected as Hamburg town justice.

Quinn and Speiser could not be reached for comment.

At this point, all vote totals are unofficial and printed as released by the Erie County Board of Elections.
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